Being a modern technology slave, I often to envisage using my expertise to start my own enterprise. So when Doug Richard (formally of the BBC’s Dragons Den) brought his School for Startups to the University of Leicester, I decided to go along. After all the university was subsidising tickets, so for £15 I couldn’t really go wrong! As a social enterprise the full price tickets are not unreasonable either.
The overall impression of the day, was a very enjoyable experience; which is perhaps not what you want from a “school”. Doug is a natural public speaker, that can captivate the audience with anecdotes and jokes. For a days entertainment it was good value, but I didn’t really get out what I expected. No discussion on business plans, very little on business models, no advice on how you might go about getting investment. A lot of the content for a intelligent person could actually be put down to common sense: “Sell something people want”, “Do something new”. In fairness however, there is a limit to what you can cover in a single six hour day.
That being said, there were a number of “surgery” sections, when entrepreneurs could come on stage and discuss their own business. These were the people that got the most out of the day, getting specific advice about off the beaten track concerns. I’m sure also, that the people queued to asked questions during the intermissions got as good advice as well.
If your considering going, make sure you have specific questions. If you’re actually thinking of starting a business and want schooling… this is perhaps not for you.
Collection of my favourite quotes/comments from the day:
Ideas are cheap – have 100
People tell you what you want to hear, few are going to tell you, your baby is actually ugly (or your business)
Take something and do it cheaper
Be remarkable, make something worth talking about. Word of mouth in the communication age is more important then ever
Who invented the iPod… Stalin. (in reference to the fact it has fewer features and gives you less rights then competitors)
Go out of your way to get companies to want to crush you. At least your being noticed.
Open source products are interesting as the number of contributors drives improved user experience.
If you want to be rich, be an investment banker. If you want the independence to do your own thing – be and entrepreneur.
There’s always room for expertise.
The first investment opportunities: friends, family and fools.
Start with what you love.